Coronavirus: retail in Spain as lockdown eases

Out-Law Analysis | 22 May 2020 | 5:49 pm | 2 min. read

More retail premises can begin to re-open in Spain as we enter the 'de-escalation' phase of the regulations introduced by the Spanish government in order to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has decided to relax some of these measures over the last few weeks, due to the positive evolution of the pandemic in Spain. This 'de-escalation' is asymmetrical and progressive. Different regions - even different municipalities - can be in different phases of de-escalation, depending on the evolution of the pandemic in their particular territory. De-escalation is divided into three different phases: 1, 2 and 3.

Here, we analyse how retail businesses can behave in each of these phases. Each phase lasts at least one week, but can be extended subject to government decisions. Many other restrictions affecting retail businesses remain in place, such as limitations on freedom of movement, but these are outside the scope of this brief analysis.

Phase 1

Some of the original restrictions have been eased, as follows:

  • retail premises smaller than 400 square metres (sqm) can now open to 30% of their normal capacity. Premises bigger than 400sqm can now open a maximum area of 400sqm to the public. The only exceptions are vehicle concessionaires, premises for the technical inspection of vehicles and plant nurseries, which may open regardless of size but only via prior appointment. Lotteries are also entitled to open;
  • premises must have special hours for customers over 65 years old;
  • premises located in shopping malls may only open where they have independent access to the street;
  • city councils may authorise open-air markets, limited to 25% of the normal selling points and 30% of their maximum capacity;
  • a minimum interpersonal security distance between customers of one metre, where there are protection barriers, and two metres, if there are no protection barriers, must be maintained at all times. Otherwise, only one customer at a time will be permitted to enter the premises;
  • discounts are allowed, but measures must be implemented in order to guarantee the interpersonal distance;
  • hydroalcoholic gel sanitation and masks must be provided for all workers where a two metre interpersonal distance cannot be guaranteed;
  • customers are not permitted to use bathrooms on the premises or test any products.

Phase 2

There are significant changes for retail in this phase, including:

  • all retail premises, including shopping malls, may now open, limited to 40% of their normal capacity. Common areas will be limited to 30% of their normal capacity and recreational, resting and children's areas will not be entitled to open;
  • premises must have special hours for customers over 65 years old;
  • city councils may authorize open air markets, limited to one third of normal selling points.

Phase 3

No part of Spain has yet reached Phase 3. The following will be the main changes affecting retail at this phase:

  • capacity limits will be increased to 50% from 40%;
  • recreational areas in malls will be entitled to open.

We expect that different restrictions will be introduced once these four initial phases have expired. However, the government has not yet announced these restrictions.

Any of the above restrictions may change in response to technical or political decisions.

Co-written by Luis Suárez de Lezo of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.